“Mary, Did You Know?” is a Christmas song with lyrics written by Mark Lowry and music written by Buddy Greene.
Mark wrote the words in 1984 “when his pastor asked him to write the program for the living Christmas tree choir presentation. It was while he was working on the project that Mark considered what it would have been like to have been Jesus’ mother”. The music was written by Buddy Greene several years later. Michael English was the first recording artist to record and release ‘Mary did you know” on his debut album aptly titled “Michael English” which was released on January 1st, 1992.
Oprah Talks to Barack Obama
Oprah: You were so young when you wrote Dreams from My Father. Why did you decide to write a memoir at 33?
Barack: I had the opportunity. When I was elected president of the Harvard Law Review, people were willing to give me money to write. That’s a huge luxury. I thought I had something interesting to say about how our cultures collide as the world shrinks. My family’s story captures some of the tensions and evolution and crosscurrents of race, both in this country and around the globe. One of the contributions I thought I could make was to show how I came to terms with these divergent cultures—and that would speak to how we all can live together, finding shared values and common stories. Writing the book was a great exercise for me because it solidified where I’d been and set the stage for where I was going.
Oprah: When did you first realize that you were a little black kid? Was it the incident you wrote about, in the seventh grade, when someone called you “coon”?
Barack: Because I grew up in Hawaii and then lived in Indonesia for a while, I understood my affiliation to Africa and black people from an early age, but only in positive terms. I became aware of the cesspool of stereotypes when I was 8 or 9. I saw a story in Life magazine about people who were using skin bleach to make themselves white. I was really disturbed by that. Why would somebody want to do that? My mother had always complimented me: “You have such pretty brown skin.”
We are ltenitg the drive by media narrow down our choices just like they did in 2008!ReplyLike or Dislike: 3 0
This is What’s Wrong with Political Coverage
Posted on 12/12/2011 at 4:25 pm by Bob Cesca
John Heilemann’s review of the Republican debate over the weekend is a fantastic example of why American political coverage is so awful, superficial and stupid.
He graded it based on style and “punches” rather than content, validity and accuracy.
This, of course, means that any of the candidates could stand up there and say, “I helped a fuzzy dude cut a piece of fruit and when he was chewin’ on it I mooshed it and called an ambulance!” and the press wouldn’t notice — that is unless the crowd booed or another candidate said, “Your campaign is a fuzzy dude!” Then, BOOM! So and so got a punch in there!
Mon Dec 12, 2011 at 01:09 PM PST.
RW Radio host Prager: black people are stupid, blinded by anger at whites
When I first tuned in, Prager was taking issue with an article he found, authored by an African-American woman. I didn’t catch the beginning of the discussion, but I gathered that he was disturbed by the writer’s take on race.
A few minutes later, he took a call from a woman because he said it proved his point. The caller was a white woman that had been married to a black man for 10 years, had a couple of children with him, but was forced into divorce because of his drug addiction. Evidently, at some point during the divorce proceedings, the husband accused her of racism. Reviewing: an man on drugs in the midst of a difficult and emotional divorce said something stupid.
Worthy of broadcast to millions, right? Ironclad proof of everything conservatives have ever said about the African-American mindset, right?
After that, Prager briefly lamented a common “regret” among conservatives and Republicans. You hear it all the time on talk radio: black Americans only vote Democrat because they’ve been duped about one of two things. Either they’ve been lied to about true nature of conservativism (MLK would have been a Republican today, donchyaknow?), or they’ve been mislead into believing that Democrats care about their issues (the reality is, of course, that Democrats are the true racists).
They’ve been duped. According to right-wing talk radio (and plenty of Republican politicians), well over 90% of African-Americans are easily fooled suckers. You might even say they are stupid.
Oh, wait? Did I say might?
From earlier today, here’s Dennis Prager telling me black Americans are angry, emotional and stupid (before you dismiss this, realize that Prager is a top-10 right-wing talk show host, with a listening audience that measures well into the 7 digits):
Mon Dec 12, 2011 at 11:44 AM PST.
“Massa” Rush Limbaugh Wants Black Politicians to Be Sure to Have Their Slave Passes
Rush Limbaugh earned his racist bonafides a long time ago. He is also an existentially and unrepentantly ugly person. Therefore, his suggestion that the head of the Congressional Black Caucus needs to get a slave pass in order to “get off” the Democratic plantation is not at all a surprise. Moreover, that there are millions of petit authoritarians who pray at his sick and twisted mantle of Angry White Male Conservatism, is also not a surprise. Their love is just a symptom of America’s cultural rot, and a dysfunctional political discourse, one identified decades ago by the noted political scientist and historian Richard Hofstadter.
Ultimately, in the 1920s through to the 1960s, there was Father Coughlin; the last few decades brought us Rush Limbaugh. There is really nothing new in the game in regards to ugly talk that plays to Whiteness’s greater devils, as opposed to its lesser angels.
Of course, I will never understand why any self-respecting black person (or person of color more generally) would get in bed with the racially resentful, and bigoted strain of populism, that is the Tea Party GOP. And that black Conservatives reproduce the language of white supremacy, with the idea that principled, reflective, and politically sophisticated, utility maximizing black people–who have decided that the Democratic Party is more aligned with their interests–are on a “plantation,” is one part racial Stockholm syndrome, and two parts selling out for the sake of a dollar…as well as the psychic wages of a pat or two on the metaphorical head from their overlords.
Abstractions are easy to use in a game where the scoring of cheap political points is the goal. The low brow rhetoric that passes for reasoned political discourse in the Right-wing echo chamber is masterful for its ability to provoke, use symbolically rich speech, repetition, moral clarity, as well as certitude. In all, the Eliminationists of the Right-wing are expert propagandists.
However, it is easy to invoke a thing, when one does not have to face the reality of it head on. A skilled rhetorician can paint a picture with words that move the crowd; but, their power can also be subverted when the gimmick is exposed–when the audience sees the literal thing that is being used as an allusion and metaphorical prop. The illusion is broken. The magic is gone.
Rush Limbaugh loves to talk about black people and slavery. It is a fetish of his. While we may not cure him of this obsession, nor break the Svengali-like hold that Limbaugh has on his cult members, we can examine an actual example of the “slave passes” he so casually evoked last week:
Transcription: My Boy Mack has my Permission to sleep in a house in Bedon’s Alley, hired by his Mother this ticket is good for two months from this date Sarah H. Savage Sep ber 19th, 1843
I wonder if the Right-wing populists who fawn over Rush Limbaugh would find such references so funny if they could actually see a slave pass with their own eyes, or read some of the actual handwriting that attempted to reduce grown adults into children, human property who were limited in the most basic exercise of their rights?
White populist conservatives would probably sneer and reverse this truth-seeking into some twisted claim of “white victimology,” and “angry black people,” who are “unfair” and “emotional.” In fact, there are likely many conservatives, who in another decade would fancy themselves owners of human property, kings of the plantation, where the darkies knew their place, and everything was a Neo-Confederate, Southern GOP, Tea Party wet dream.
Their love of such abuses of history aside does not mean that we ought not to confront conservatives about their fictions at every opportunity, to hold them accountable.
Please indulge me some private-public talk for a moment. My black folks, we need to do a better job of protecting our history, the narratives that are generated about it, and how our struggle is made the fodder for political games by conservatives and liberals alike. No other group’s freedom struggle and suffering (our Jewish brothers and sisters especially, are to be held up as exemplars for how to protect one’s master story) is mocked with such ease, frequency, or with so few consequences.
These slave passes are not impersonal abstractions, curiosities of history, without meaning or weight. Slave passes were the naked and obvious demonstration of power by Whites, and the ability (or so they believed) to control black people–your kin and family–as human property from the cradle to the grave:
.Sun Dec 11, 2011 at 08:10 PM PST.
Playing the Race Card: Conservative Style
Deborah Goldring has a multitude of problems. After losing her job as a hospital executive assistant, she received a foreclosure letter from the bank. After 30 years, she was faced with loss of her home. She had already lost her husband from a fatal illness and had lost their modest life savings to nursing home costs.
Driven from the middle class by economic forces beyond her control, she was now in poverty and facing possible homelessness. In the wake of the 2008 economic crash, Mrs. Goldring was not alone. There were many stories like hers across the nation.
But Deborah Goldring grew up black in 1960‘s segregated Baltimore, where northern and southern racism met, creating a unique border-state Jim Crow. Her family had been desperately poor, evicted multiple times from apartments and reduced to stealing electricity.
But thanks to the civil rights movement and federal intervention, there were more opportunities for black people when she arrived at adulthood and she was able to enter the middle class through hard work and single-minded determination. Then 2008 came along and the bottom fell out.
For me to live that life we were so comfortable in, we never had to worry about finances, we always had money where I can help my kids and my grandchildren — to go to calling my daughter to borrow $100 because I can’t pay a bill …” Goldring’s voice trails off as she struggles to hold back tears.
According to conservative dogma, we live in a post-racial society. Mentioning Mrs. Goldring’s color is considered playing the race card, making a false or exaggerated claim of discrimination for political gain. No one called her nasty racial names. No one stood at the hospital door and screamed that clerical jobs were now “white only.” No one spat on her when they delivered her foreclosure notice. Her story is sad, but it could happen to anyone. According to conservatives, there is no need to drag the divisive issue of race into it and stir up trouble.
Her story could happen to anyone, but it happens more frequently if your skin is dark. The cold driving rain of recession does not fall on the USA equally. White unemployment as of December 2010 was 8.5%. Black unemployment was 15.8%, while latino unemployment was 13%. For every dollar of white income, blacks earn 57 cents and latinos earn 59 cents. The average white net worth is 20 times that of blacks and 18 times that of latinos. Marc Morial, president of the the Urban League has stated, ” …that the widening wealth gap between whites and minorities has wiped out gains made over that last 30 years and could foreshadow even more inequality if something isn’t done to address it.”
So like climate change and evolution, those other realities that are often denied by conservatives, racism is very real. In fact racism has undergone its own Darwinian evolution. Old fashioned in-your-face racial epithets are no longer socially acceptable. A black celebrity like Oprah can become a billionaire with millions of devoted fans. The Republicans even flirted with a black presidential candidate until he flamed out.
But in the area of economics, institutional racism still rules the American dollar. A term originally coined by the late Stokley Carmichael (Kwame Toure) here is a definition of institutional racism:
In the United States, institutional racism results from the social caste system that sustained, and was sustained by, slavery and racial segregation. Although the laws that enforced this caste system are no longer in place, its basic structure still stands to this day. This structure may gradually fall apart on its own over a period of generations, but activism is necessary to expedite the process and provide for a more equitable society in the interim.
American racism has been an intimate partner of American capitalism since the beginning of this nation. Did anyone seriously think they could be pulled asunder by a few civil rights laws? Institutional racism is alive and well and being carefully guarded by conservatives. It is truly…racism’s last stand.
Deborah Goldring’s generation consisted of the baby boomer children of blacks who had lived through the Great Depression. But the gains of the New Deal era labor uprisings that helped create the modern middle class went mostly to whites, as blacks were normally excluded from the better paying jobs. Domestic workers and farmworkers, then mostly black, were denied Social Security and the protection of labor laws.
The GI Bill that made college education and low interest home loans available to World War II veterans was not applied equally. Many colleges and universities were still segregated and blacks were excluded from segregated white suburbs.
Conservative Republicans and racist Democrats teamed up to pass the post WWII Taft-Hartley Act, aimed directly at the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). The CIO had a daring plan to organize southern workers across racial lines, raise wages for all and smash segregation through combined working class action. Instead it was the CIO who got smashed by the intense government repression.
It Sucks to be the Speaker
Mon Dec 12th, 2011 at 03:21:00 PM EST
Brian Beutler is too polite. He accurately describes Speaker Boehner’s harebrained idea for passing an extension of the payroll tax holiday and unemployment benefits, but he treats it too seriously. The bottom line is that Boehner doesn’t have the votes in his own caucus to pass the extensions, so he’s trying to sweeten the pot by including all kinds of things that Democrats hate. Chief among these is a provision that would force the administration to make a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline within 60 days. Some Democrats support the pipeline, but that doesn’t mean they will be able to ignore all the other garbage in the bill and give it their support.
And, even if they did, or even if Boehner brought along enough of his own caucus that he didn’t need Democratic votes, he’d still have to strip almost all the crap out to get the Senate to sign off on it in the conference committee. And once everything is pretty much stripped out, then he’s back to his original problem, which is that his own members don’t support the extensions.
Boehner’s problem is that he doesn’t want to get blamed for giving every worker in the country a thousand dollar tax hike while fighting tooth and nail to preserve tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. But the only way to avoid that problem is to work with Pelosi and to stop trying to win over his nutty right flank.
It also looks like Congress might serve up a Defense Appropriations Bill that the president will veto because of its detainee provisions. Boehner probably has enough, or close to enough, votes to override the president’s veto, but the Senate probably would fall short. If the president vetoes the Defense bill, it could be a pretty lousy (and short) winter vacation for Congress. Especially considering that Congress is struggling to pass its Omnibus bill to avoid another government shutdown. They have to have that put together by tonight or they won’t be able to go home on Friday (without violating their own House rules for posting a bill 72 hours before a vote).
All in all, it’s a complete nightmare for Speaker Boehner. He’ll still probably get more than he deserves, which is nothing. But he’s not the most competent man, and he has a lot on his plate right now, none of which will make him popular.
I meant to introduce you to Josh Mandel, but he’s not here
Josh Mandel is running against Sherrod Brown for the US Senate in Ohio. Well, sort of. Business interests from outside the state are running television ads against Brown, and Josh Mandel is giving interviews to far Right media outlets, but Josh Mandel himself is oddly absent:
Josh Mandel took several months beyond the required deadline to file his financial disclosure statement as a candidate for the U.S. Senate. He now has taken roughly as long to say no to the Akron Press Club, declining an invitation that Republicans and Democrats long have accepted, a chance to talk about his candidacy and take questions from people in the audience.
The refusal is cheeky given recent events in the emerging campaign, the state treasurer for 11 months challenging Sherrod Brown, the Democratic incumbent. Mandel has been hurling wild charges, most recently accusing Brown of siding with “fringe elements” (the Athens County commissioners?) in wanting to take care concerning oil and gas drilling in the Wayne National Forest.
At the same time, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been airing misleading ads attacking Brown for, among other things, wanting to raise energy taxes. One ad distorts a photo of Brown, seeking to portray him as nothing less than shady.
Throw cheap shots, watch others do the same in your cause, and then refuse to stand up in Akron to discuss your candidacy? A worthy candidate doesn’t choose such a moment to duck. The refusal is all the more galling in light of the Mandel schedule. The past six months he has been raising campaign money in Honolulu, San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Washington. No time for a luncheon talk at the Press Club in Akron?
My take on it so far is that the ideological assumption the Chamber started with, that there’s been some massive popular shift to far-Right conservatism in Ohio, is just plain wrong. I don’t think that happened here. I know national pundits said that happened after the 2010 midterms, but if it was ever true it seems to have dissipated very quickly. I live in one of the most conservative counties in the state, and if I had to use one word to describe the mood of the local GOP political-types, after a two week round of attending Christmas parties with them, I’d say “deflated”, or even “conciliatory”. Not a lot of crowing or strutting going on. No one is waving the Gadsden flag. Since all of Mandel’s support comes from outside the state maybe that stale national ideological narrative is what Mandel, by way of the Chamber, is relying on when running his campaign. If so, I think that’s a mistake. I think Sherrod Brown’s career-long message of practical, grounded, middle class populism is a much better bet for this state than relying on the Tea Party fad.
As far as campaigning exclusively from 30,000 feet, I think that’s a mistake too. Ohio conservatives got away with that approach in 2010 because it was a very good year for Republicans nationally, but it was just a good year. It was not some seismic lasting shift in the statewide electorate, despite all the media hype about the Tea Party. Mandel is young, and he has no actual experience either in government or in running for anything. I think he eventually has to come out from behind the US Chamber of Commerce and when he does he’s going to encounter Sherrod Brown, who has a long history with the people in this state and deep knowledge of state and federal issues.
Brown works hard. He shows up. When he comes to this county, a county that is overwhelmingly conservative and didn’t support him in 2006, he doesn’t meet with local Democrats. He meets with local (GOP) government and business leaders and a broad range of ordinary people, because this really is a swing state, and an Ohio politician who wants to keep his seat has to meet with and listen to people who (sometimes) disagree with him and probably didn’t vote for him. Josh Mandel has never done that. He didn’t have to, in 2010. He just rode the wave. He ran a series of really vile attack ads against his opponent which were based on racial and religious bigotry, and walked to “victory”. No one knows if he’s any good at operating outside the conservative echo chamber, and he certainly isn’t getting much practice campaigning in Ohio because he’s fund-raising in Honolulu. He’s also not getting much practice acting as the state treasurer, but I think it’s clear to most people now that he never had any real interest in that job.
At this point, looking at the opposition, observing what I see as a misguided, somewhat stale approach premised on some truly out of touch national narratives, I feel pretty good about Sherrod Brown’s chances.
December 12, 2011 2:25 PM
Jobless aid on the line
By Steve Benen
House Republicans said last week they’ll consider an extension of the payroll tax break, but Democrats have to accept a fairly long list of conditions. The one that got most attention was the demand that the Keystone XL pipeline be approved, but the changes to unemployment benefits are arguably the most extraordinary.
Republican officials, well aware of the jobs crisis, want to sharply reduce the length of time jobless workers can be eligible for unemployment benefits, while also requiring those who lack high-school degrees to enroll in GED programs and allowing states to impose drug-testing requirements on anyone who loses their job.
Jared Bernstein marveled at the Republican agenda.
I suspect that you, like me, agree that people should have at least a high school degree and not take drugs. But don’t the long-term unemployed have enough problems without this kind of harassment and political grandstanding?
The whole thing makes no sense. The conservative meme about UI allowing unemployed people to scoff at all the available jobs out there is belied by the fact that there are four job seekers per job opening. Under such demand constrained conditions, conservatives, including Alan Greenspan, have typically supported UI extensions. In fact, we’ve never failed to extend with the jobless rate this high.
It’s bad for families who need the money, and it’s bad for the macro economy, since they spend the money. I mean, who’d want to both hurt out-of-work families and further restrain the recovery? Why would anyone want to do that??!!
Oh … right … never mind.
That last line was of particular interest, because it links to a piece noting Republican leaders who’ve openly admitted that they prioritize defeating President Obama above literally any other consideration. Bernstein, in other words, is implicitly lending credence to the “sabotage” question, which has steadily gained traction in recent months.
Indeed, Bernstein, a mild-mannered economist who recently concluded a very successful stint in Vice President Biden’s office, is suggesting that GOP leaders are deliberately hurting the economy and undermining the interests of struggling families, simply to advance a campaign agenda.
That’s no small accusation, and it’s one that is bolstered by ample evidence.
Backlash Mounts Against Un-American Bigots Who Targeted All American Muslim
I don’t watch many reality TV shows, but I have really been enjoying the TV show “All-American Muslim” presently being shown on cable channel TLC.
“All-American Muslim” follows five Arab American Muslim families living every day American lives with their jobs, their businesses, their extended families, etc. I like the show because it is about “regular everyday people” doing “regular everyday things” as opposed to, for example, “Jersey Shore”, another reality TV show. As a non-Muslim, but otherwise regular person who does regular things every day, I can relate to the people on “All-American Muslim” much more than the people on “Jersey Shore”. Let me explain. I live in Detroit Michigan, which is right next door to Dearborn Michigan, the city featured in the TV show. Dearborn (and metro Detroit) is home to more people of Arab descent and more Muslims than anywhere else in the United States. By the way, the popular current mayor of Dearborn, John “Jack” O’Reilly, is an Irish-Catholic, the son of another former Dearborn mayor, and has repeatedly stated that Dearborn is not ruled by “Sharia Law”—another one of the “red meat” lies perpetrated by some in the United States. As a matter of fact, Arab Muslims in Dearborn are only about 30% of the total population of Dearborn.
But I digress. The TV show “All-American Muslim” is about regular everyday people doing regular everyday things, but the people on this show are Muslim, hence the title of the show. Part of the show shows the families going to the mosque or praying at home; one segment about one of the daughters getting married showed her sister going to the salon to have a beautiful and special hijab tied for the occasion. Because the show is about Muslims, a far-right wing organization named, ironically, the Florida Family Association, has decided that it, and it alone, can decide who can be called “American” and what kind of values are “American values”. The Florida Family Association has also decided that the TV show is not showing “American values” but instead is spouting “an Islamic agenda” that is “a danger to American liberties and traditional values”. Call me crazy, but I thought that ALL Americans were given the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”…or is it all Americans except the ones organizations like the Florida Family Association don’t like? What?!?!? The Florida Family Association doesn’t like people getting married? It doesn’t like families attending religious services together and then getting together later and having a multi-generational potluck dinner? It doesn’t like husbands and wives having babies and raising children? It doesn’t like husbands and fathers coaching high school football? It doesn’t like women working outside the home AND going to the hair salon? Maybe the Florida Family Association doesn’t like women going to the hair salon because it is actually a “hijab salon”? The Florida Family Association doesn’t like religious services unless they are Christian services? May I remind the Florida Family Association that the United States Constitution states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” and that means Christianity, Judaism, AND Islam; as well as other religions in America. Legally in the United States, no one religion is supposed to be more important than another, and no religion is supposed to be demonized, denigrated, or set up for either special rights or special elimination. Read the Constitution, why don’tcha
Southern support may turn tide for Obama in 2012
By Edward Wyckoff Williams
10:12 AM on 12/12/2011
If you can’t be a good example, then at least be a terrible warning.”
These ominous words seem to sum up the Republican presidential hopefuls currently vying for the GOP nomination and a chance to beat President Barack Obama in November 2012.
The battle for the White House is on, and it’s no longer a choice between Obama’s progressive policies and the do-nothing Congress. The race has finally taken shape: Romney and Gingrich have emerged as the most likely candidates, and the American voter has been warned by their terrible examples. They can finally see the forest for the trees. The alternatives to Obama are featured menu items that not even independents or moderate Republicans have a taste for.
Until recently, the president’s approval ratings were stuck at anemic levels. The effective war of words waged against his health care reform bill (a.k.a. ‘Obamacare’) was having a detrimental effect. And the incessant attacks by conservatives undermining his leadership skills and personal integrity were taking an unmitigated toll. Everyday a new headline declared the end of a presidency which in many ways had only just begun.
But the tides are changing.
The GOP’s Libertarian Disguise Hides Their Government By Corporation Dreams
There are varying opinions concerning government’s role in Americans’ lives, and for conservatives, their constant refrain that government is too big and guilty of overreaching gives the impression that they are Libertarians in disguise. Indeed, most Republican legislators have signed on to Grover Norquist’s pledge to never raise taxes and the goal is reducing the size of the government so Mr. Norquist can “drown it in a bathtub.” Perhaps conservatives are just pushing for a laissez faire, anything goes society that benefits the wealthy elites who have resources to buy the government and replace it with a for-profit, corporation; a corporation that forces Americans to pay to live in the country.
During the Iowa Republican debate on Saturday, the topic of health care engendered remarks that the government cannot “force” Americans to buy health insurance. The participants quickly latched on to the tenthers’ state’s rights mantra, but the underlying theme is that government is taking away Americans’ ability to exercise free choice. Libertarians have long complained that government has no right imposing rules on Americans, but they never consider the chaos or ill-effects of allowing unregulated businesses to cause harm to the American people. When it comes to harming the American people, Republicans have embraced libertarian principles and have had great success convincing Americans that government regulation restrains enterprise, and if they eliminate regulations and the government, it will give Americans freedom and prosperity when the reality is it will complete the Republicans drive toward oligarchy.
There are myriad examples of government rules and regulations that if eliminated, would mean a breakdown of society as well as causing the greatest possible amount of harm to the people who built and maintained this country for two-hundred years. Republicans want to shrink the government by eliminating programs, agencies, and regulations that protect the people to help corporations and the wealthy prosper while leaving 99% of the population to become worthless peasants to serve the wealthy. If any American with a 3rd grade education stopped and considered the beneficial role the government serves, they would admit that under Libertarian-Republican rule, their lives would be on par with the poorest Afghani citizen.
Perhaps libertarians can imagine pharmaceutical companies that are not required to test the latest wonder-drug. What happens when they, or their loved-ones, become deathly ill from untested and unsafe medicine? Will they still think it is all right to allow greed to override public safety because they hate the government “forcing” drug manufacturers to deliver safe medicines? Or maybe libertarians imagine a government that allows businesses to refuse serving people with brown hair. Rand Paul approved of giving businesses the right to discriminate against African Americans because anti-discrimination laws are government overreach into private business practices. Republicans promoted a law that allows medical professionals to refuse to treat a patient if their conscience is bothered by saving a gay person. The discriminatory law is based on the bible and a belief that the government cannot “force” medical professionals to treat patients regardless that discrimination is prohibited by the Constitution.
They can take that “state’s rights” bullshit and shove it.
December 12, 2011 1:30 PM
Forests vs. trees
By Steve Benen
As a political story, Mitt Romney’s offer of a $10,000 bet on Saturday night has a lot going for it. The story reinforces allegations that Romney is out of touch and unable to relate to middle-class anxieties; it comes at an awful time for Romney as Newt Gingrich surges; and perhaps best of all for the media, “Willard’s Wager” is amusing and easy to understand.
But as Greg Sargent noted this morning, there’s a better story that’s generated far less attention.
[W]hile the $10,000 moment is politically problematic and revealing in some ways, it doesn’t really deserve to rise to the level of national narrative. What’s more deserving of a national storyline about Romney is his serial dishonesty, his willingness to say and do anything to win. […]
More broadly, political reporters and commentators are always tempted to seize on such moments as the $10,000 bet as defining of a candidate’s character. But this moment is ultimately almost as trivial as was John Edwards’ $400 haircut…. This broader pattern [of dishonesty] is what deserves the status of national narrative about Romney’s character, not some throwaway line about a bet.
I don’t think there’s any doubt that Greg’s right about this. Romney and his team have demonstrated a willingness to lie — blatantly and shamelessly — with discomforting ease. We’ve seen this in offensive campaign ads, routine talking points, policy arguments, and even personal anecdotes and characteristics. The former governor seems to have an allergy to the truth.
When pressed, Team Romney has responded, more than once, that niceties such as facts, evidence, and reason just aren’t that important to them. This, in and of itself, seems like a wildly important story, which generally goes overlooked.
So why does “10,000 bucks” get picked up far and wide, while “Romney has a problem telling the truth” doesn’t? If I had to guess, I’d say it probably has to do with the media’s comfort — or in some cases, its lack thereof — with various narratives. Establishment news outlets don’t mind saying Romney is an out-of-touch elitist, but they do mind saying he’s an uncontrollable liar. The former just doesn’t seem especially harsh, so it’s well within the confines of polite discourse. The latter may be demonstrably fair and bolstered by ample evidence, but the media remains reluctant to go there.
But in terms of what deserves to be a major campaign narrative — the wager vs. the dishonesty — it’s not even a close contest.
December 11, 2011
Better than we hoped
Just now, on “Meet the Press,” Sen. Lindsey Graham referred to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as “Stalinist.”
And I kid you not. An agency designed to shave a few points from your credit card or to guarantee you an intelligible mortgage is being compared by a high-ranking GOP official to a totalitarian savage who brutally slaughtered millions of his own and enslaved half of Europe.
Prior to Graham’s appearance, Rep. Ron Paul said on the same program that he won’t rule out a third-party run, which, happily, would shave in the neighborhood of, say, 8 or 10 points from the GOP’s turnout — the few, the proudly unhinged who buy into the argument of credit-card regulation as ideological genocide — in critical swing states.
Oh what a lovely — and damn near effortless — election this is shaping up to be, for Barack Obama.
The Entire GOP Field Goes Negative
Ron Paul continues to mercilessly pummel the former speaker:
Romney is asking for Gingrich to give back the money he took from Freddie Mac. Gingrich is hitting back by making Romney’s time at Bain an issue. Joseph Lawler thinks that “Gingrich has basically adopted the language of the anti-corporate left with this line of attack.” Jonathan Bernstein wonders if Gingrich and Romney will score a double TKO:
Gingrich is now signaling that he is willing to push back hard on Romney’s attacks, even citing Romney’s days at Bain Capital — which are central to the Democratic case against Romney — to damage him. Watch out! Even with only three weeks remaining until the caucuses, it’s not too late for Iowans — who have a strong reputation for disliking negative campaigning — to punish both of them.
December 12, 2011
Still the adult(s)
Barack Obama’s “60 Minutes” interview was a study in smooth. The more I see of this president’s calm resolve within the GOP’s maelstrom of prepubescent fits and infantile dramatics, the more impressive his emotional maturity becomes. Some take a more critical view and see it as emotional indifference, or cold detachment, or even a dreamy disconnect; to me, he merely suffers the little children, while anticipating that his fellow grownups throughout the electorate will, in the end, appreciate what’s what.
Which is what we’ll discover next year: whether, in this young century, the American voter has learned to distinguish between democratic theatrics and republican virtues — that descriptively ironic reversal of the two major parties’ lower-case attributes.
Don’t get me wrong. Today’s Democrats are far from impeccably adult; but for their every one Alan Grayson, the other guys have thousands of Joe Walshes.
And to compare the responsible equanimity of President Obama to the puerile antics of Newt Gingrich or the kids-show hosting of Mitt Romney is to make no real comparison at all.
Quote For The Day
“I would just say that if Governor Romney would like to give back all the money he’s earned from bankrupting companies and laying off employees over his years at Bain that I would be glad to then listen to him. I’ll bet you $10, not $10,000, that he won’t take the offer.” –
–Newt Gingrich, in response to Romney’s criticism of Newt’s $1.6 million in “consulting fees” from Freddie Mac.
12 Dec 2011 12:44 PM
Santorum And Sandusky
This I didn’t know:
Another audience member questioned the candidate about Santorum awarding former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky with the Angels in Adoption Award. Santorum explained that he lacked knowledge of the situation at the time and noted that the award has since been withdrawn.
In response to his explanation, the audience member asked, “So we shouldn’t trust Obama with our kids, but we can trust you?”
Apparently, a little S&S does hurt somebodies…
Monday, December 12, 2011
The choice is coming into focus
The Republicans have a ways to go before they chose a nominee in the 2012 Presidential race. But over the last week, American votes have started to see glimpses of what their eventual choice will be next November. First of all, you have President Obama’s speech in Osawatomie, KS. That was followed by a Republican debate in Iowa and then the 60 Minute interview with the President.
When it comes to the number one issue Americans care about…jobs and the economy, here’s what the top two Republican contenders said about that at the debate.
Gingrich: I would start with zero capital gains, hundreds of billions of dollars would pour into the country, I’d go to 12.5% corporate tax rate, that would bring in at least $700 billion in repatriated money back from overseas. I would then go to 100% expensing for all new equipment– abolish the (UNINTEL) news– write it off in one year, and I’d abolish the death tax penalty. Those steps would begin to dramatically create jobs.
Romney: One, make sure that our employer tax rates are competitive with other nations… Number two, get regulators and regulations to recognize their job is not to burden the– the private enterprise system, but to encourage it. Number three, to have trade policies that make sense for America, not just for the people with whom we trade…
Number four, we have to have energy policies that take advantage of our extraordinary energy resources. Number five, the rule of law, and the Boeing– effort on the part of the N.L.R.B. violated that. Number six, grade institutions to create human capital, and number seven, finally a government that doesn’t spend more money than it takes in.
And here’s President Obama in Osawatomie.
It starts by making education a national mission — a national mission. Government and businesses, parents and citizens. In this economy, a higher education is the surest route to the middle class…
In today’s innovation economy, we also need a world-class commitment to science and research, the next generation of high-tech manufacturing. Our factories and our workers shouldn’t be idle. We should be giving people the chance to get new skills and training at community colleges so they can learn how to make wind turbines and semiconductors and high-powered batteries…
Today, manufacturers and other companies are setting up shop in the places with the best infrastructure to ship their products, move their workers, communicate with the rest of the world. And that’s why the over 1 million construction workers who lost their jobs when the housing market collapsed, they shouldn’t be sitting at home with nothing to do. They should be rebuilding our roads and our bridges, laying down faster railroads and broadband, modernizing our schools — all the things other countries are already doing to attract good jobs and businesses to their shores…
Of course, those productive investments cost money. They’re not free. And so we’ve also paid for these investments by asking everybody to do their fair share.
Of course, all of that focuses on policies over politics and personalities. The later is a whole other story and just as important to the American voter. Today, p m carpenter summed that up beautifully.
Barack Obama’s “60 Minutes” interview was a study in smooth. The more I see of this president’s calm resolve within the GOP’s maelstrom of prepubescent fits and infantile dramatics, the more impressive his emotional maturity becomes…
And to compare the responsible equanimity of President Obama to the puerile antics of Newt Gingrich or the kids-show hosting of Mitt Romney is to make no real comparison at all.
There’s a reason why the country rallied around President Obama in the last election after the intellectually vacuous chest-thumping of George Bush. Over the years of actual governing, many abandoned that and suggested the smooth intellectual approach was about being distant and professorial (yeah, I’m looking at you Maureen Dowd). But now I’d suggest that many people are beginning to see again why we liked it so much in the first place. The alternative promises to be another Republican train wreck.
Posted by Smartypants at 8:46
12 Dec 2011 11:38 AM
The Evangelicals’ Catholic
Newt is many things, but his hostility to secularism is one of the more recent and impassioned of his convictions. And it’s this drive to found the United States on explicitly religious grounds that has won him the support of so many Christianists. The checkered marital past is not as important as Gingrich’s new faith, and his new faith is less important than his defense of “Judeo-Christianity” in both America and around the world. There’s been some internal debate among evangelicals over whether to forgive Newt his past – and the consensus seems to be yes. Note why:
On the same e-mail chain, which CNN obtained from a conservative activist, prominent Atlanta preacher Richard Lee said the nation’s evangelicals needed to support Gingrich. Lee called Gingrich “the only forceful Christian candidate who can at this point be elected and cleanse the White House next November.”
Don’t you love that word “cleanse”? The current president is a devoted family man, devoid of any personal scandal, and a committed Christian, as his speeches and books testify to. And this must be “cleansed”? The reason is that Obama represents a more liberal and live-and-let-live version of Christianity, and believes in the separation of church and state. That’s what needs to be cleansed (assuming we are not talking bald-faced racism here).
What Newt represents is the tip of the spear of the Christianist attempt to wipe separation of church and state out of the constitution. And in this struggle, the denominational differences do not count as much as the secular enemy. Gingrich is also not an old-style Catholic – in the Kennedy or Cuomo or Biden manner. He is an ideological Benedict XVI Catholic, bent on public and political Christianity as a means of saving what’s left of civilization after the great Electro-Magnetic Pulse.
The main danger here is not, to my mind, domestic. The real danger is what Gingrich would do in the wider world. With Bolton as his secretary of state, gripped of the conviction that we should launch two more pre-emptive wars against North Korea and Iran, paranoid of existential threats to an extent that would out-Cheney Cheney, determined to fuse America’s foreign policy with Israel’s in a religious war between Judeo-Christian fundamentalists and Jihadists … it would be hard to come up with a more alarming prospect than Newt with a capacity to wage war, under the unilateral parameters set up by George W. Bush and tragically reasserted and legitimized by Obama in Libya. There is not a global conflict Gingrich would not further inflame; not a diplomatic relationship he wouldn’t occasionally blow up (apart from Israel, which would effectively be seen as indistinguishable from the United States itself).
Every day, it seems, the tectonic plates of our world shift. And what I see in Gingrich is the relentless rise of fundamentalism as the overwhelming threat to liberal democracy and world peace.
Same shit, different day..
Kansas tea party illustration draws racism claims
The Associated Press
HUTCHINSON, Kan. | A tea party group in Kansas says its depiction of President Barack Obama as a skunk is satire, not racism as the leader of a civil rights group alleges.
Hutchinson-based Patriot Freedom Alliance says on its website that like the president, the skunk is “half black, half white, and almost everything it does stinks.”
Local NAACP president Darrell Pope sees no humor in the depiction, which he calls a blatant statement of racism.
Local tea party supporter Chuck Sankey says former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has been the target of worse insults than what’s on the website.
Patriot Freedom Alliance meets regularly and has hosted rallies in the Hutchinson Sports Arena.
Posted on Sun, Dec. 11, 2011 09:21 PM
Read more: http://www.kansascity.com/2011/12/11/3314889/kansas-tea-party-illustration.html#ixzz1gLHtcqGu
Monday, December 12, 2011
Mitch Turtles Up
Posted by Zandar
My senator, Mitch McConnell, is confident there “will be a deal” to extend the payroll tax cut. It’s a good sign, meaning that yes, President Obama has gotten the better of the GOP again. The question now is, as always, can the GOP leadership control the Tea Party nutjobs in the House enough to make the deal work? That’s not always a given.
We’re going to reach an agreement,” McConnell told “Fox News Sunday,” noting there is “bipartisan support” for extending the tax cut.
The 4.2 percent payroll tax that workers pay to fund the Social Security retirement system will return to 6.2 percent in January if Congress fails to act. That would raise taxes on 160 million Americans an average of about $1,000 per family.
Democrats have led the charge to extend the tax break, raising pressure on Republicans to join in or face possible voter backlash in next November’s congressional elections.
The House of Representatives is set to approve a Republican plan as early as Tuesday to extend the tax cut, tying it to a bid to accelerate approval of TransCanada Corp’s Keystone XL pipeline project between the United States and Canada.
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid has said the plan would be rejected by his chamber because of the Keystone pipeline provision opposed by President Barack Obama.
Senior congressional aides predict that Reid and the top congressional Republican, House Speaker John Boehner, will soon take the leading in brokering a deal — just as they did in a budget fight this year to avert a partial government shutdown.
Republicans want that Keystone XL pipeline for their big energy interests. The President has punted on the deal until after the election, and TransCanada is warning that if the deal’s not closed now, they’ll walk away. On the other hand, the Republicans would be far more hurt by raising taxes on the middle class over some oil pipeline nonsense.
And they know it. This is why Mitch is freely talking about a deal before it’s happened. Details are a killer, however. Keep in mind also that Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum all oppose extending the payroll tax cut, while Gingrich, Romney, and Ron Paul support it. We’ll see what shapes up this week…oh, and there’s more government shutdown fun on the horizon too for this week. Keep an eye on both stories, they’ll move fast.
Talking Points Memo:
Perry: Americans don’t want a president who can name all the Supreme Court justices http://tpm.ly/rD2pw8
SMGDH LOL I feel for you Texans.
he is one dumb mofo
Monday, December 12, 2011
Turn On The Lights, Watch The Roaches Scatter Part 83
Posted by Zandar
Not sure what’s more depressing about this story on Wells Fargo reaching a legal settlement with multiple states for defrauding local and state governments: that Wells Fargo is this crooked, or that the states need the money so badly they’re willing to let Wells Fargo off the hook for chump change.
Wells Fargo & Co. and regulators announced Thursday a $148 million settlement to resolve accusations that Wachovia, which was purchased by Wells, participated in a bid-rigging scheme that hurt state and local governments.
It’s the fourth major bank to settle with the consortium of federal agencies and state attorneys general. Bank of America Corp. settled for $137 million last December.
The settlement is also the second Wells Fargo has made on the issue in as many months.
“We’re really pleased to resolve the issue,” Wells Fargo spokeswoman Dana Obrist said, noting that it involved activity that predated the company’s 2008 acquisition of Wachovia.
In a statement, the bank said it “cooperated fully” with the investigation and does not condone illegal activity.
The federal agencies alleged that a group of large banks conspired to defraud local governments and other entities that bought municipal derivatives, which are used to invest money from bond proceeds until they are needed for projects. Bankers coordinated what they would bid on the contracts and in some cases paid kick-backs to one another, investigators said.
A total of $54.5 million will go to towns, school districts and nonprofits around the country as part of the settlement with 26 state attorneys general.
“Rigging the system to prevent fair competition cost taxpayers, local governments and schools millions of dollars,” North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said in a statement. “I’m pleased that we’ve been able to win money back for those who were harmed here in North Carolina.”
Granted, if you’re a local government on the brink and have laid off thousands of employees, this money comes at a damn good time and it will make a difference. On the other hand, there’s no way Well Fargo should still be in business after all the nonsense it has engaged in, and they’re basically getting a pass while continuing to rake in money from the government.
It’s a victory for this battle. The war was lost long ago.
Fuqua School looks to African American football star to shatter racist legacy
“He’s the reason black folks go over there now,” Tucker says, perfecting Williams’s hairline. “Before that, we didn’t touch the place. It was always just ‘that racist school.’ ”
Not everyone at the shop is convinced
For a lot of them, it’s still painful,” says Quincy Jones, 71.
“They’re still living in the past,” Williams interjects. “They don’t want to just learn from it and move on.”
Back in the car, Williams sighs. He feels alone as he straddles two worlds.
“Got this whole city on my shoulders,” he says.
Sometimes, it’s worth the burden. Like when Tucker started showing up at the Fuqua stadium. Or when his grades improved thanks to coaching from a few attentive teachers. (He has a B average and recently took the SAT in preparation for college.) Or after a solid game under the lights, when the team of undersize white kids coheres around Williams, playing beyond their abilities.
But success is rarely simple. History keeps creeping up.
When Farmville recently renovated a civil rights museum, Williams was invited as a special guest. He met black residents who lost years of education when public schools closed. They call themselves, Williams learned, the “crippled generation.”
Some of his football coaches, hired to lead an all-white team decades ago, expressed little regret about the school’s past.
“Things changed. Not for the better. Not for the worse. They just changed,” says Walter Addleman, who has coached the team for more than 30 years.
In the back seat of the car Williams is driving, there’s a bag of candy and a glittery piece of construction paper with his name and jersey number, made by an apple-cheeked cheerleader named Peyton Wall.
One of Wall’s great-grandfathers was an architect of Fuqua — a man deeply committed to the school’s racist foundation.
“We were defending people’s right to educate the races differently,” J. Barrye Wall told a historian in 1979. “We lost in court — the South lost — but it’s still not settled.”
Fuqua officials in that era shared his vision.
“We’re goddamned if we’re going to tell everyone that we were hypocrites all those years,” Fuqua’s attorney, George Leonard, said at a federal court hearing in 1978. “Fundamentally, we believe blacks deserve a different type of education than whites.”
In 1981, school headmaster Robert T. Redd told a historian: “Most blacks simply do not have the ability to do quality schoolwork.”
Thirty years later, Peyton Wall calls such views shameful and archaic. “Our school got over all that,” she said.
Williams looks at the candy, the glittery good luck charm. Ghosts everywhere.
December 12, 2011 11:15 AM
Remember the ‘ban’ on earmarks?
By Steve Benen
When Illinois Republican Robert Schilling was running for the House last year, he based part of his platform on his opposition to earmarks. “We need earmark reform that improves transparency, roots out corruption and eliminates wasteful spending,” he wrote in an op-ed two weeks before the election. “My opponent never met an earmark he didn’t like.”
Schilling is now a freshman GOP House member, and one of many lawmakers who’s finding ways around his party’s ban on earmarks.
A six-month study of this year’s defense authorization bill has identified 115 spending proposals as earmarks worth $834 million, including 20 by Republican freshmen who campaigned against the pet projects, according to a copy of the report provided to The Washington Post.
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), whose staff produced the study, called the behavior a “bold flaunting” of the GOP-led moratorium on earmarks. She chastised Republican House members for removing documents about earmarks from their Web sites that would have made it easier to identify the practice.
“It was perplexing that so many Republicans had scrubbed their Web sites,” said McCaskill, who on Friday gave copies of the report to the chairman and ranking member of the Armed Services Committee. “If you are going to tout the earmarks you received, why not remain transparent? For me, the entire thing is disappointing.”
For the record, I don’t much care about earmarks, and tend to think politicians make too much of this. For many, “earmark” is synonymous with “wasteful spending,” and that’s really not the case.
That said, consistency counts. If congressional Republicans are going to boast about their prohibition on earmarks, and get elected on a promise to steer clear of earmarks, there’s a problem when they ignore their own ban and do the opposite of what they said they’d do.
Most Incumbents Win or Lose Big
Mon Dec 12th, 2011 at 10:11:57 AM EST
When sitting presidents get reelected, they frequently get elected resoundingly. In the post-war era, six sitting presidents have been reelected. Four of them won in landslides. In 1956, Eisenhower improved on his 1952 totals (55%) by racking up 57% of the vote. In 1964, Lyndon Johnson earned 61% of the vote. In 1972, Nixon jumped from 43% (in 1968) to sixty-one percent. In 1980, Reagan won only 51% of the vote in a three-way race. In 1984, he was reelected with 59% of the vote in a two-way race. Bill Clinton fought two three-way races, never getting as much as simple majority of the vote. Still, he upped his percentage from 43% in 1992 to 49% in 1996.
Only George W. Bush defied this trend. He won the presidency in 2000 despite losing the popular vote. His election was essentially a fluke produced by a flawed battle design in one county of Florida and enabled by an aggressive governor (his brother) and secretary of state, and a partisan ruling of the Supreme Court of the United States. His reelection was anything but resounding. He earned slightly less than 51% of the vote, and he benefited from a secretary of state in Ohio who used every trick in the book to depress Democratic turnout.
But I don’t want to talk about the controversial elections of the Bush era. I only mention them to point out they are historical anomalies. It is much more normal for a sitting president to win big than to win narrowly.
The sample of post-war incumbents who have lost is half the size of those who won, but it still shows a 2:1 ratio for blowouts. Jimmy Carter (41%) and George H.W. Bush (37%) were blasted out of office. Gerald Ford (48%) put up a more respectable showing.
We’ve grown accustomed to an even red/blue divide, but it’s probably a transitory state of affairs. In 2012, we may be facing a choice between someone like Newt Gingrich or Rick Perry and President Obama. In a circumstance like that, we ought to expect a result similar to 1964, 1972, and 1984. It really doesn’t matter what state you live in, it’s easy to see that Gingrich and Perry are not suitable presidents.
Mitt Romney is a very bad politician. But he wouldn’t be seen as flatly incapable of doing the job. That’s why he would probably produce an election more like 1976 or 1996. Either he would very narrowly defeat the president, or he’d be beaten comfortably but, like Bob Dole, not resoundingly.
The biggest difference between a fight against Romney and a fight against Gingrich or Perry is in how it would affect the downticket races. Republicans are already worrying about it, as The Hill reports:
Republicans on Capitol Hill prefer Romney over Gingrich, with many of them saying a Gingrich nomination would jeopardize the chances the GOP will keep the House and win the Senate.
Weeks ago, it seemed likely that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) would stroll to the nomination and be able to save his resources for the general election against President Obama. Now he is in a dogfight with Gingrich, trailing the Georgia Republican in most of the early-voting states by double digits.
“[Gingrich] says outrageous things that come from nowhere and he has the tendency to say them at the exact time to undermine the conservative agenda,” former Sen. Jim Talent (R-Mo.), who is backing Romney, said in a conference call Thursday. “If the nominee is Newt Gingrich, the election is going to be about the Republican nominee, which is exactly what President Obama and the Democrats want.”
I’m definitely in the anyone-but-Mitt camp. We need a landslide or nothing is going to change much.
RedState’s Erickson: The Bet Issue Is Also A Mormon Issue
RedState’s Erick Erickson writes that one angle being missed in the coverage of Romney’s 10K bet is that it suggests he treats his Mormon faith in a cavalier way:
“Mormons do not bet. So now it seems Romney is even willing to treat his faith lightly for personal, political advance.”
Newt Gingrich: Romney Got Rich ‘Laying Off Employees’
Newt Gingrich’s positive campaign expired today. It was pronounced dead at 10:12 AM, Monday morning, after reports surfaced that the candidate accused rival Mitt Romney of amassing a fortune off the misery of laid-off workers.
The fatal moment came after Gingrich was asked by reporters whether he should return some of his reported $1.6 million in consulting fees from housing giant Freddie Mac in light of the 2008 subprime mortgage collapse.
“I would just say that if Gov. Romney would like to give back all of the money he’s earned from bankrupting companies and laying off employees over his years at Bain, that I would be glad to listen to him,” Gingrich told reporters in New Hampshire after a town hall. “I’ll bet you $10, not $10,000, that he won’t take the offer,” he continued.
Gingrich has up to this point made an ostentatious display of his positive campaign, repeatedly pledging to refrain from attacks against Romney and other rivals even as they pile on him in debates, ads, and public statements. But the slap at Romney’s time at Bain, a general election vulnerability that’s rarely come up in the more investor-friendly Republican primary, suggests he may be departing from that strategy.
Newt Gingrich Is A Dumb Person’s Idea Of A Smart Person
Stephen Budiansky spells it out:
I have been perplexed for some time why Newt Gingrich is routinely acknowledged even by his bitter enemies within the Republican Party as a “genius,” but the answer turns out is simple: he acts exactly like one of those obnoxious elitist intellectual know-it-alls that the right-wing no-nothings think is the hallmark of an intellectual. He is constantly reminding us of his doctorate in history; he routinely claims he understands issues more deeply than anyone else; he has made a career of denouncing or (when he had the authority) eliminating professional expertise that might challenge his own certain pronouncements; and he is a veritable fount of crackpot “big” ideas (mining minerals on the moon, protecting the United States from sci-fi doomsday scenarios, and “fundamentally transforming” everything as a first step to doing anything.
A Talent For Contempt”
Rick Hertzberg nails the core Gingrich appeal:
In 1990, when he was not yet Speaker, he pressed a memo on Republican candidates for office, instructing them to use certain words when talking about the Democratic enemy: “betray,” “bizarre,” “decay,” “anti-flag,” “anti-family,” “pathetic,” “lie,” “cheat,” “radical,” “sick,” “traitors,” and more. His own vocabulary of contempt has grown only more poisonously flowery. President Obama’s actions cannot be understood except as an expression of “Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior.” Liberals constitute a “secular-socialist machine” that is “as great a threat to America as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union.” There is “a gay and secular fascism in this country that wants to impose its will on the rest of us” and “is prepared to use violence.”
In this campaign, Gingrich’s performances in televised debates have been widely deemed effective. But what has won him his most visceral cheers from the audiences in the halls—audiences shaped and coarsened by years of listening to talk radio and watching Fox News—is his sneering attacks on moderators, especially those representing the hated “liberal” media.
In March, at the Cornerstone Church, in San Antonio, Gingrich declared, “I am convinced that, if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America,” his grandchildren will live “in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American.” Last spring, this was a kind of right-wing performance art. Now it is the language of the man leading in the Republican polls, a man who—in the real world, not the alt-world—could, not inconceivably, become President of the United States. Imagine that.
December 12, 2011 8:00 AM
Parties pounce on Romney’s bad bet
By Steve Benen
Clearly, the most memorable moment in U.S. politics over the weekend came in Saturday night’s debate, when Mitt Romney challenged Rick Perry to a $10,000 bet over a line from Romney’s book. It caused an immediate firestorm — for the multi-millionaire vulture capitalist to try to intimidate a rival with his wealth, throwing around a wager worth three months pay for most U.S. workers, only reinforced the perception that he’s the out-of-touch elitist in the race.
Yesterday, not only was the media eager to ponder just how big a screw-up this was, Romney’s critics from both parties pounced. Jon Huntsman’s campaign was first out of the gate with this minute-long video, making the case that Romney was simply wrong on the substance:
Soon after, Rick Perry’s campaign unveiled a minute-long video of its own, arguing that Romney was both wrong and out of touch, adding, “The truth isn’t for sale.”
And by late yesterday, the Democratic National Committee released this video, in which Democrats barely had to add a word — the DNC simply put together a montage of analysis from others, including many Republicans, of Romney’s $10,000 bet.
Notice that some of the media criticism in the DNC’s clip came from Fox News personalities.
Time will tell if this story quickly fades, becoming another blip on the larger campaign radar. But even if it is, the damage has arguably already been done — the ABC debate on Saturday night scored big ratings, which means Romney’s misguided offer was widely seen, and comes just three weeks before the Iowa caucuses.
In light of Newt Gingrich’s recent surge, Team Romney really hoped to use Saturday night’s debate to get back on track. Given the wager and the ensuing attention about how dumb it was, that clearly didn’t happen.
And just to reiterate a point from yesterday, it looked to me like this was Romney just saying what was on his mind when he stuck out his hand and said, “Rick, I’ll tell you what. 10,000 bucks? $10,000 bet?” In other words, for all of Romney’s overly-slick, robotic presentation, I doubt this was a scripted talking point or a prepared response. It was just the candidate being the candidate.
Romney is one of those rare politicians who shouldn’t be himself.
Newt Gingrich Spokesman Outs Candidate As Anonymous Source
The New Hampshire Union Leader recently quoted “a senior aide in the [Newt] Gingrich campaign” pushing hard, and at length, against criticism from former Governor John H. Sununu, an outspoken surrogate for Mitt Romney’s campaign.
The aide, in turns out, was as senior as you can get: It was Gingrich himself.
R.C. Hammond, a spokesman for the Gingrich campaign, revealed the source of the comments to The New York Times, telling the paper that the candidate has also been studying Franklin D. Roosevelt press conference transcripts to get some insight into how he handled reporters. The Times noted that “reporters often quoted President Roosevelt without identifying him.”
December 12, 2011 9:35 AM
Perry flubs the Solyndra details
By Steve Benen
It’s going to be tough for Rick Perry to top last week’s embarrassing gaffe — he apparently thinks the Supreme Court has eight justices — but when we reflect on the 2012 race and come up with the governor’s top 10 funniest screw-ups, this one will probably make the cut.
While criticizing President Barack Obama for picking winners and losers in the energy industry, he bungled the name of the most famous energy company to go under despite government assistance.
“No greater example of it than this administration sending millions of dollars into the solar industry, and we lost that money,” Perry began. “I want to say it was over $500 million that went to the country Solynda.”
First, it’s Solyndra, not Solynda.
Second, it’s a company, not a country.
And third, federal loan guarantees in the energy industry have generally been pretty successful, and have enjoyed bipartisan support for many years.
Other than this, though, Perry’s on firm ground.
December 12, 2011 10:00 AM
Romney gambles on Freddie Mac attack
By Steve Benen
Newt Gingrich ran into some trouble recently when we learned that he lobbied for Freddie Mac and then lied about it. That said, despite exceedingly unflattering revelations, voters didn’t seem to care much about the story, and the headlines soon faded.
Mitt Romney, scrambling to stem Gingrich’s rise, hopes to bring the story back.
Mitt Romney said Monday that Newt Gingrich is part of a Washington culture that disgusts Americans, and called on the former House speaker to return the seven-figure sum he received from the government-backed lender Freddie Mac.
Asked on Fox News if he thinks Gingrich should give back the $1.6 million that Freddie Mac paid him, Romney answered: “I sure do.” […]
Romney noted that Gingrich originally said he’d taken a sizable sum from Freddie Mac in order to serve as a “historian.” “That’d make him the highest-paid historian in history,” Romney said.
This is a clean hit on an issue where Gingrich at least appears vulnerable. Unlike so many of Romney’s attacks, this one doesn’t even require lying.
There is, however, a problem: Romney has some Freddie Mac troubles of his own.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has long been critical of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac … [y]et Romney has profited from investments that were made in both government entities, according to his personal finance disclosure forms and documents compiled by American Bridge, one of several Democratic groups in Washington formed to back the election campaigns of Obama and other Democrats.
The issue illustrates the potential perils for a candidate with vast financial holdings whose rhetoric does not necessarily match his investment interests.
“Once again, Mitt Romney has proven his hypocrisy knows no limits,” said Ty Matsdorf, spokesman for American Bridge, which was formed earlier this year and has been going through the records of President Obama’s potential opponents. “To continually attack the housing crisis, yet invest up to a half a million dollars in the major players is absolutely mind boggling. I didn’t know a person could flip flop on themselves, but Romney has proven that wrong.”
It leads to a pretty straightforward question: if Gingrich should return the money he made by working for Freddie Mac, should Romney return the money he made by investing in Freddie Mac?
Backlash for Lowe’s as ads pulled from Muslim show
By CHRISTOPHER WEBER | AP – 13 mins ago
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Lowe’s Home Improvement has found itself facing a backlash after the retail giant pulled ads from a reality show about American Muslims.
The retail giant stopped advertising on TLC’s “All-American Muslim” after a conservative group known as the Florida Family Association complained, saying the program was “propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda’s clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values.”
The show premiered last month and chronicles the lives of five families from Dearborn, Mich., a Detroit suburb with a large Muslim and Arab-American population.
A state senator from Southern California said Sunday he was considering calling for a boycott.
Calling the Lowe’s decision “un-American” and “naked religious bigotry,” Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, told The Associated Press he would also consider legislative action if Lowe’s doesn’t apologize to Muslims and reinstate its ads. The senator sent a letter outlining his complaints to Lowe’s Chief Executive Officer Robert A. Niblock.
Today, President Obama meets with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of Iraq. Following the bilateral meeting, the President and Prime Minister Maliki will hold a joint press conference at 11:35 a.m. EST.
Watch the press conference at 11:35 a.m. EST on WhiteHouse.gov/Live.
$10,000 Bet Debate Extra Reax
Up to now [Romney] had looked consistently solid in these forums: calm, cool, reasonable, informed, somewhat robotic, but on the whole believably presidential. Tonight, by contrast, it was as though he had prepped for the showdown by doing several lines of coke backstage. He was talking too fast. Blinking too fiercely. Fidgeting too much. Babbling. Cackling. On the whole looking, as Newt Gingrich might put it, fundamentally twitchy
Clearly, [Romney] is in trouble. I date that trouble to his late-November decision to jump into Iowa. It seemed a smart move at the time: Herman Cain was the front-runner, but that wasn’t going to last. Newt’s surge was just beginning; there was no way to tell how intense it would become. It seemed plausible that Romney might sneak a victory with his chronic 25% support level. Now it seems possible he might be clobbered there, finishing well behind Gingrich and Ron Paul, perhaps even slipping down to Rick Perry level (a level Romney attained, momentarily, by challenging Perry to that bet).
Gingrich’s poise was in sharp contrast to the botched attacks, missed opportunities, and general awkwardness that marred Cain’s and Perry’s performances earlier this fall and helped end their surges. And his response to Romney’s early attacks was the rule for the night. For every criticism from an opponent Gingrich was ready with a snappy, confident explanation. His answers amounted to gobbledygook at times — like his insistence that conservatives of the early ’90s had only proposed an individual mandate in an effort to stop Hillary Clinton’s healthcare reform plan — but Gingrich isunusually effective at selling gobbledygook. There was plenty in his performance Saturday night to reassure the hordes of new supporters who’ve flocked to his campaign in recent weeks.
Gingrich just schooled Romney in their first clash. Total Gingrich win. Romney would do better to get it into his head that the salient difference between him and Gingrich has nothing to do with which one of them is a professional politician. Romney has more recent experience of elected office and has been running for who-knows-how-long. The salient difference is that Romney has experience of the private sector and Gingrich was a beneficiary of crony capitalism.
I think Romney’s strategy of going negative on Newt Gingrich at this point is a mistake (better to let Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann carry the ball on that one), and he was clearly thrown when George Stephanopolous demanded that he attack on cue early on, but if you’re going to attack, you need to do it well – and he very much didn’t. He didn’t have a lot of awful moments outside of challenging Rick Perry to a $10,000 bet (over something that Perry was basically correct about), but overall Romney probably gave his weakest performance.
Romney … made the gaffe of the evening when he attacked Rick Perry, of all people. Until now, Romney has been very careful not to punch below his class, but Perry got under his skin and Romney ended up going after Perry on Gardasil all over again. He didn’t do it well, either, and when Perry attacked Romney over statements in his book regarding health care, Romney tried to intimidate Perry by challenging him to bet $10,000 over the issue. If Romney wanted to make himself look rich, arrogant, and clueless, he could hardly have done a better job. When was the last time someone challenged you to a ridiculous bet in order to intimidate you out of an argument? For me, I think it was junior-high school.
Nate Silver kept an eye on Intrade during the debate:
I checked the share prices for the seven major Republican contenders at 8:59 p.m. on Saturday, just before the debate began. Those prices represent estimates of the likelihood that the candidates will win their party’s nomination. At that point, Mr. Romney’s chances of winning the nomination were attributed to be 47.2 percent. They had declined to 44.4 percent, however, as of 12:27 a.m. on Sunday. Meanwhile, the share price for Newt Gingrich, who had a strong evening, rose significantly.
It was the first time [Gingrich had] attacked another candidate on the debate stage, after months of attacking debate moderators for even trying to make the candidates fight…. Romney revealed that he really isn’t as good at Gingrich at dishing this out. No one is—not in this field. No one thinks as quickly on his feet, and no one tosses up so many decoys to escape set traps.
Dan Drezner goes after Gingrich for questioning whether American will survive should Iran get the bomb:
Even a nuclear-armed Iran led by the current regime of nutball theocrats cannot threaten America’s survival. I get why the United States is concerned about Iran going nuclear, and I get why Israel is really concerned about Iran going nuclear. The only way that developments in Iran could threaten America’ssurvival, however, would be if the US policy response was so hyperbolic that it ignited a general Middle East war that dragged in Russia and China. Which… come to think of it, wouldn’t be entirely out of the question under a President Gingrich.
Daniel Larison focuses on Gingrich’s Israel misinformation:
Gingrich’s remarks have nothing to do with telling the truth, and there’s certainly no courage required to make these statements. On the contrary, he is deliberately trying to deny an obvious reality to curry favor with hard-liners in his party. It’s a shame that the other candidates and the journalists at the debate allowed him to preserve the appearance of being someone interested in an accurate understanding of history.
In saying of the Palestinians, “These people are terrorists,”a statement blatantly aimed at the six out of ten Iowa Republicans who describe themselves as born-again or evangelical Christians, he answered Hunter Thompson’s famous question about President Nixon’s 1972 campaign: How low do you have to go to be President of this country? Newt, we now know—did we ever doubt it?—will dig all the way to China.
The Washington Post:
Michelle Obama breaks world record for jumping jacks http://wapo.st/v5v3dK
December 12, 2011 8:40 AM
A radical embrace of nullification
By Steve Benen
On “Fox News Sunday” yesterday, Chris Wallace asked Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) about Republicans refusing to allow lawmakers to vote on Richard Cordray’s nomination to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The GOP Senate leader wasn’t the least bit embarrassed about his party’s abuses.
“[W]hat we are saying to the president is: join with us and reform this agency, make it accountable to someone, the people elected the Congress for its funding and for its oversight, and then send up somebody and we’ll be happy to confirm them. There’s nothing wrong with Mr. Cordray personally. This is about an unaccountable, unelected czar. And we’re simply not going to appoint him, or confirm him, or anybody else to this agency that shouldn’t exist in its current form.”
Note, McConnell said the bureau “shouldn’t” exist. That it already exists is, to him, irrelevant.
Around the same time, on “Meet the Press,” David Gregory asked Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) about the same controversy.
“So this consumer bureau that [Democrats] want to pass is under the Federal Reserve. No appropriation oversight, no board. It is something out of the Stalinist era. The reason Republicans don’t want to vote for it is we want a board, not one person, making all the regulatory decisions, and there’s no oversight under this person. He gets a check from the Federal Reserve. We want him under the Congress so we can oversee the overseer.”
All of this may seem rather routine — Republicans have been making the argument for a while — but it’s worth pausing to appreciate just how radical a position this really is.
Graham, who really ought to know a little more about current events, characterized the Democratic position as eyeing an consumer-protection agency “they want to pass.” Here’s the thing the South Carolinian may have missed: the agency already passed. It’s part of a little something called “existing federal law.” The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was signed into law in 2010, after passing the Senate with bipartisan support as part of the larger Wall Street reform package.
Graham isn’t quite sharp enough to even understand the basics of the argument. He insisted yesterday Republicans “don’t want to vote for it.” But no one is asking them to. “It” already exists, whether the GOP likes it or not. It’s now the Senate’s job to consider nominations for the board’s leadership.
Which leads us to the larger problem: what Republicans are embracing in this case is, in effect, nullification.
Congress passed a bill that was signed into law by the president. Last week, a Senate minority — not a majority, a minority — decided it simply won’t allow that law that’s already on the books to be executed.
In case this isn’t obvious, the American system of government isn’t supposed to work this way. Indeed, it’s pretty much the antithesis of our constitutional process.
Republicans may not care about this, but you should.
The GOP minority isn’t even questioning Cordray’s qualifications. Rather, Republicans are saying they refuse to allow existing law to function until Democrats meet the GOP’s demands and does Wall Street’s bidding. When the Senate minority is satisfied, they’ll consider allowing the law to function — if they feel like it.
As a matter of legal and institutional principles, Americans haven’t seen tactics like these since the Civil War. It led James Fallows to explain yesterday, “This strategy depends absolutely for its success on its not being called what it is: Constitutional radicalism, or nullification.” Jonathan Cohn made the same point last week, and Thomas Mann referenced a “modern-day form of nullification” in July.
Political tactics and schemes come and go, as politicians and parties win and lose. But what Republicans are doing now does real damage to the American system of government. It is, by any meaningful definition, a serious and important political scanda
Mapping Out The Primary Calendar: Why Mitt Romney Is In Trouble
Eric Kleefeld- December 12, 2011, 5:50 AM
Mitt Romney has spent a lifetime around politics. His father George Romney was a governor of Michigan and a one-time candidate for president, and his mother Lenore Romney also once ran for the Senate. And starting in 1994, and then much more intensely in the past decade, he has run for Senate and governor of Massachusetts, and then for president. But despite all his hard work and preparation, he might be facing his most formidable opponent yet: The primary calendar.
Taking a step back from the various state polls, and looking at the flow of the calendar itself, something starts to become clear: If a person had sat down to write a primary calendar, designed around the goal of making things hard for Romney, they could not do much better than the current one.
It is, of course, too early to know what will happen. But on the other hand, if the current trends do end up continuing — and if his new main rival, Newt Gingrich, does not collapse — Romney may be on the verge, despite his long march of running for president in 2008 to now, of having a very rough time in January.
The earliest contests in January are mostly in territory that is simply not a natural fit for Romney. Things turn around in February, with primaries and caucuses that could be better for him — but by then, if current polling trends holds out, the damage could be irreparable.
So let’s take a look:
January 3 — Iowa caucuses, 28 delegates: Back in 2008, Romney made a major push for this state — and lost. In a major upset, Mike Huckabee won with 35% of the vote followed by Romney at 25%, Thompson 13%, McCain 13%, Paul 10%, and Giuliani 4%.
The polls during this cycle have all shown Romney consistently stuck in a narrow range, from the teens into the 20’s — very similar to his actual showing last time around. And when he has been ahead, it has been thanks to the severely divided opposition. But with the field narrowing a bit since Herman Cain dropped out, and much of Cain’s support headed right over to Gingrich’s column, the polls have only gotten worse for Romney.
In short, if there is a single step where Romney could be thrown off his balance, and where a single anti-Romney could be anointed, then this is it.
The Wider Gingrich Reality
The new polls today are striking in two respects. First, Newt is headed toward a landslide victory in the early states, apart from New Hampshire. He beats Romney in Florida and South Carolina by 15 and 19 points respectively. But in the same poll, Obama beats Gingrich in the general election in both Florida and South Carolina! I know it’s way too soon, and I will bet, I dunno, $10,000, that the Republican candidate will win South Carolina next November. But still: Obama beats Gingrich by 12 points in Florida. Nationally, Obama beats Newt by around the same margin he beat John McCain – 6.9 percent – during a brutal recession.
Romney is far more competitive with Obama (behind by only 1.5 percent) but still underperforms the generic Republican by 2.5 points. So now you know why the Establishment is beginning to panic.
Posted on 12/11/2011 at 4:00 pm by JM Ashby
From last night’s debate.
“I think every person up here worked at a young age,” Gingrich declared. “What I suggested was kids ought to be able to work part time in schools, particularly in the poorest neighborhoods.”
“If you take one half of the New York janitors, who are paid more than the teachers. An entry-level janitor gets paid twice as much as an entry-level teacher. You take half those janitors, you could give lots of poor kids a work experience in the cafeteria, in the school library, in the front office, in a lot of different things. I’ll stand by the idea young people ought to learn how to work.”
After Newt was done spewing bile, the debate audience cheered for laying off half of the adult work force to replace them with children who may or may not be paid.
No word on what those adult janitors, who are supposedly paid more than teachers — an assertion which I call bullshit on — are suppose to do for a job.
What bothers me the most about this idea is Newt’s singling out of poor kids. As if we should get a head start on training poor kids to be our janitors and food servers while rich kids wait idly by for their free ride to the Ivy League.
The psychological damage to children in such an environment, where poor kids are serving the rich kids lunch, would be incalculable. And given the demographics of poverty, in many cases you would end up with minority children serving white children.
Insider Trades: What’s Eric Cantor Hiding?
by Steven D
Fri Dec 9th, 2011 at 10:46:15 AM EST
We’ll get to Eric Cantor in a minute but first a little good news …
Every year someone gets caught using inside information to cheat and place sure bets on stock trades. This is (if you did not know it before) a federal and (usually) a state crime (for most people). Now, the fact that insider trading is the equivalent of fraud, which is punishable as a felony under federal law, discourages many people who are inclined to disregard the law and risk jail time for millions of dollars in profits, but every once in a while a US Attorney prosecutes people for violating the law against using inside information to game the system. Not as many people as all those who engage in it, of course, but every once in a while the Department of Justice actually makes a case and puts someone in jail, like this guy:
Reuters) – A New York stock trader pleaded guilty to participating in an insider trading scheme that relied on inside information from a corporate lawyer at four prominent law firms and spanned over 15 years, the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey announced in a press release on Thursday.
Amazing isn’t it? Presumably highly compensated attorneys at reputable and I suspect very profitable law firms, lawyers who worked on securities deals or who had privileged information about their clients that might influence said clients’ stock prices, worked with this stock trader for FIFTEEN YEARS to make millions in illegal gains using that privileged information. Amazing to me anyway that they got caught, but I suppose like many organized crime figures, they got sloppy after a while and slipped up. Here are some excerpts from the press release issue by the District of New Jersey’s US Attorney’s office:
Garrett D. Bauer, 44, of New York, pleaded guilty to all four counts charged in the Information against him: conspiracy to commit securities fraud, securities fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and obstruction of justice. Bauer entered his guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Katharine S. Hayden in Newark federal court. […]
“Today, Garrett Bauer admitted that he used confidential information, stolen from major law firms, to make tens of millions in one of the largest, longest-running insider trading schemes ever prosecuted,” said U.S. Attorney Fishman. “After taking the lion’s share of the $37 million in profits, Bauer now faces punishment for conduct that undermines the fairness of our financial markets and the public’s trust in the safety of its investments. We have no tolerance for corporate insiders and their cronies who benefit themselves by using their positions and access to cheat the investing public.” […]
Bauer and two coconspirators – Matthew Kluger, 50, of Oakton, Va., and Kenneth Robinson, 45, of Long Beach, N.Y. – engaged in an insider trading scheme that began in 1994 and relied on Kluger, a lawyer, to steal information from his employers and their clients. […]
Over time, Kluger worked at four of the nation’s premier mergers and acquisitions law firms. From 1994 to 1997, he worked first as a summer associate and later as a corporate associate at Cravath Swaine & Moore in New York. From 1998 to 2001, he worked at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in New York and Palo Alto, Calif., as an associate in their corporate department. From 2001 to 2002, Kluger worked as a corporate associate at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP in New York. From Dec. 5, 2005, to March 11, 2011, Kluger worked at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati (“Wilson Sonsini”) as a senior associate in the Mergers & Acquisitions department of the firm’s Washington office.
While at the firms, Kluger regularly stole and disclosed to Robinson material, nonpublic information regarding anticipated corporate mergers and acquisitions on which his firms were working. Early in the scheme, Kluger disclosed information relating to deals on which he personally worked. As the scheme developed, and in an effort to avoid law enforcement detection, Kluger took information which he found primarily by viewing documents on his firms’ computer systems.
Once Kluger provided the inside information to Robinson, Robinson passed it to Bauer. Bauer then purchased shares for himself, Kluger, and Robinson in Bauer’s trading accounts, then sold them once the relevant deal was publicly announced and the stock price rose. Bauer gave Robinson and Kluger their shares of the illicit profits in cash – often tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars – that Bauer withdrew in multiple transactions from ATM machines. […]
This case was brought in coordination with President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated, and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes.
As you can see, Mr. and Ms. Ordinary Investor’s portfolio underperformed the average return on stocks by a -1.5%. Senators on the other hand outperformed the market average by a whopping +12.3% with House members also outperforming the market by the lesser extent of +6%. Not a bad deal for those lucky duckies in Congress who could trade on inside information without fear that their actions would subject them to criminal prosecution.
Yet, now that this has all come to light thanks to a bill Louise Slaughter (S-NY) originally proposed in 2006, and a November 60 minutes expose on this loophole just for Congress, Eric Cantor comes riding to the rescue to stop the 220 or so members of both parties in the House who have co-sponsored Rep. Slaughter’s Stop Trading on Insider Knowledge Act (STOCK Act). I wonder why, don’t you?
Well, not really. After all, Cantor already shorted US treasuries during the debt ceiling debate as was well documented by many news outlets including this Dkos diary from June 28, 2011: Eric Cantor shorting the U.S. Treasury market. I don’t think he did that based on a hunch or gut feeling, do you?
Here’s some info on Eric Cantor’s net worth based in his financial disclosure forms. (Source: opensecrets.org)
2010 Net Worth: From $2,893,110 to $8,048,999
2009 Net Worth: From $2,175,157 to $7,533,999
2008 Net Worth: From $1,853,155 to $6,707,999
Seems like he’s been doing pretty well for himself since the economy cratered in 2008. I know I lost most of my savings, so why is Cantor doing so well these past 3 years? Could it have anything to do with insider trading? Maybe we should ask him. So Mr. Cantor, how much have you profited from the use of inside information in your investments while you have been a member of Congress? Inquiring minds want to know.
One black woman’s personal mission to reelect Obama
The president may need an even bigger African American turnout this time — and political dynamos like Gerri Hall to help him get it.
By Mark Z. Barabak, Los Angeles Times
December 12, 2011
Reporting from Flint, Mich.—
Growing up poor and black in Mississippi, Gerri Hall learned there was a meanness in the world, a set of laws and customs aimed at people like her, which her mother tried to explain once when they were forced to stand aside and let a white lady use the sidewalk.
“Honey,” Hall remembers her mother saying, “that’s just the way it is in Mississippi.”
But there was also love and pride and determination in rural Greenwood, along with a belief that things could and would eventually change — and the way to change them was within her grasp.
“In order to make a difference,” Hall says her father often told her, “you’ve got to understand politics and get involved.”
Fifty years later, there is a black man in the White House and Hall is firmly rooted in the middle class, with a nice home in a leafy neighborhood, a pension from her 30-year job at General Motors and enough savings to help her grown son buy a starter place of his own.
“Things have definitely gotten better,” she allows, “in terms of tolerance and coexistence and people getting along.”
Hall is not, however, satisfied. For the next year, she has one overriding goal: to see that President Obama wins a second term, to show his victory was no fluke, to silence his critics and give him more time to implement the policies she sees thwarted, heedlessly and incessantly, by his Republican foes.
Like many black Americans, Hall, 60, looks at the president and sees a reflection of herself: joys and triumphs but also challenges and adversity, a good part of it, she suggests, owing to the color of his skin. “When we look at President Obama, we can relate to what he’s experiencing because of the experiences in our own backgrounds,” Hall says over lunch at an Irish-themed restaurant, where she stands out as one of the few black patrons.
The sentiment may explain why Obama still enjoys commanding support among African Americans, even though blacks have suffered the worst of the deep recession that soured so many others on the incumbent.
“He came from where the majority of minorities came from, from meager beginnings,” says Reggie Smith, a local head of the United Auto Workers union, who laughingly recalls how he, like Obama, once drove a car with a rusted hole in the floor. “He can relate like no other president before, and that’s what keeps him strong in the African American community.”
Obama won 95% of the black vote in his first presidential race and will likely match that next year. The question is whether 2008’s record black turnout can be repeated, or even exceeded, now that the heady days are long gone. Even Obama, speaking this fall in Los Angeles, conceded his reelection bid “will not be as sexy” as his first run.
But Hall, who keeps a grinning photo of the president dangling from her key chain, is adamant Obama will surpass that performance. “We’re not just saying” — here she adopts a mincing tone — ‘Oh, let’s elect an African American president.’ We already have a black president. What we need to do is give him support so he can work his plan.”
Analysis: GOP debates are “presents” for Obama
(CBS News) Just weeks away from the Iowa caucuses, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich continues to see his popularity rising – in part, perhaps, due to his confident performances in Republican debates.
Some observers see that as good news for the White House.
“I think these debates are like presents under the Christmas tree for President Obama,” said CBS chief White House correspondent Norah O’Donnell, in a political roundtable on Sunday’s “Face the Nation.” “They want more and more Americans to watch these debates where Mitt Romney managed to make a mistake.”
Until recently, the Obama administration has chiefly targeted former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney as the likely Republican nominee (and Mr. Obama’s competition) in 2012.
But as CBS’ Bob Schieffer said Sunday, “It’s no secret they really want to run against Newt” in the general election.
A number of Democratic lawmakers have hailed Gingrich’s ascendance as the possible nominee, particularly given the candidate’s long history in Washington – during which time he has undergone a lengthy ethical investigation, owned up to marital infidelity, and made any number of controversial statements.
“I did not think I had lived a good enough life to be rewarded by having Newt Gingrich be the Republican nominee,” quipped longtime Democratic congressman Barney Frank, when asked about the possibility.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi echoed that sentiment, telling Talking Points Memo in an interview that Frank’s comment “spoke for a lot of us” Democrats.
According to O’Donnell, the debates potentially provide increased opportunities for Gingrich to shine, and for Romney – who is viewed by many observers as a much more serious threat to Mr. Obama – to falter.
Democratic Senator McCaskill Finds House Defense Bill Riddled With Earmarks
WASHINGTON — House Republicans banned earmarks, a top symbol of congressional profligacy, after they won control of the chamber last fall in a wave of voter anger over excessive government spending.
But more than half of the amendments to this year’s House Department of Defense authorization bill were earmarks, according to Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, a leading congressional critic of the practice.
In a report to be released this week, McCaskill said that the House Armed Services Committee’s chairman, Rep. Howard McKeon, R-Calif., set up a system that enabled members to “circumvent the earmark ban” by offering pre-approved amendments that outlined the projects and the funds they hoped to secure for their districts.
3 Chics Christmas Scrapbook
Look through it and enjoy…
Heads up, 3 Chics!
Santa is making his list and checking it twice. Have you guys been good?
Tell the truth!
LMBAO Ummm, urrrr, ummm. ** hands on hip and finger on forehead thinking about question* YES! I’ve been a good girl, Santa!
Good Morning, Ametia, Rikyrah, 3 Chics, Friends & Visitors!
Good Morning, Everyone :)
Hola and Happy Monday, Everyone! :-)